Are there likely to be any complications when treating a diabetic dog?

April 13, 2012

Diabetes happens not just to humans. Our canine friends can acquire diabetes too. Unfortunately, similar to human diabetes canine diabetes has no cure as well. An owner of a dog afflicted with this disease has to learn everything they can to help the pet. Diabetes is a complex disease. The well being of the dog would depend on careful monitoring and effective management. Diabetic pets would require utmost care more than any other ailing pets. Why? A well meaning and concerned dog owner may inadvertently cause the pet more harm while administering treatment as complications that could endanger the life of the pet can arise.

Breeds with predisposition to diabetes are Dachshund, Keesehond, Miniature Pinscher, Beagle, Fox and Yorkshire Terrier although any breed of dog can be afflicted with the disease. Diabetes is caused by malfunctioning endocrine glands. There are two types of canine diabetes. Diabetes insipidus is characterized by the deficiency in vasopressin, an anti diuretic hormone that controls the kidney’s absorption of water. The other type is diabetes mellitus characterized by insulin deficiency.

A sugar blood level test will determine if the dog has diabetes and once diagnosed, the pet would need constant monitoring. Canine diabetes would initially be managed with proper diet. The dog’s diet can either help or worsen the condition as there are foods that should be eaten in the same manner that certain foods must be avoided. Treatment of diabetes is aimed to return the normal blood sugar level of the dog so as to prevent complications from arising. Diabetes mellitus commonly requires lifelong insulin injections. The type of insulin, the dose as well as the frequency of administration has to be adjusted to maintain a close to normal blood glucose level over a 24 hour period. When not properly monitored, insulin overdose can occur resulting to a low level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or high blood sugar level (hyperglycemia). When hypoglycemia develops the dog would be very weak, would manifest incoordination, muscle tremors and seizures. Dog owners have to be alert when these symptoms are shown by the dog as this could result to the death of the dog. The dog would certainly need medical attention as intravenous fluids that contain glucose are oftentimes necessary to stabilize the pet. However, as a first aid treatment, karo syrup or honey must be rubbed on the gums of the dog to increase blood sugar level.

Another complication that could arise when treating canine diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. This is the opposite of hypoglycemia. Permanent or temporary damage to nerve tissues would result from high blood sugar levels. Nerves throughout the body can be damaged but it usually starts on the feet and legs. The nerve injury tends to progress in stages so that commonly a dog would manifest neuropathy with a weak hind legs that would progress either to pain or numbness causing the pet to be sluggish and to refuse to run. Because the back legs are weakened the dog would commonly drag its legs. Oftentimes the condition can be mistaken as a sign of aging. Medications can give the pet relief from pain but what would be most important is to keep a tight control of the pet’s blood sugar level.

Canine diabetes is considered to be one of the autoimmune diseases that could cause system malfunctions. As with any other disorders, early diagnosis is necessary to give the dog the necessary treatments. As mentioned, there is no cure for canine diabetes but with regular visits to the vet, with the right food and with proper monitoring of the blood sugar levels and right administration of medications, it is possible for the pet to live a normal life.

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